Chicken escallops with tomatoes, olives and capers

It was hot in Beirut today...
I wished to be by the sea, feeling the breeze, watching the waves and day-dreaming.  However here I am, thinking of food and colourful summer dishes while writing this blog. 
We are spoilt for fresh ingredients in Lebanon and it is often difficult to choose which to pick. I believe however that the essence of the Mediterranean lies where tomatoes and olives grow.
I love tomatoes. I love to eat them straight off the vine, their skin still warmed by the sun. I love their sweet taste and their scented flavour.
Tomatoes are versatile, and combine well with many ingredients, they form the basis of many Italian and Lebanese sauces. There are also unavoidable classics such as tomato and olive oil bruschetta or labne wrap with olives and fresh mint. Tomatoes are delicious roasted until candied and wrinkly in a low oven with a little brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and olive oil . Add them then to baked ricotta or  couscous salad. Another way to eat tomato is mezzo style with a glass of Arak: sliced, smeared with garlic and olive oil paste and sprinkled with sumac.

Today, I combined cherry tomatoes with capers from Pantelleria, olives from Koura and basil from Zina Fine Herbs.  I used the fresh and fragrant mixture to eat with home-made chicken escallops.

A perfect meal for a perfect summer’s day.

Chicken Escallops with tomato, olives and capers

500 g chicken breasts
Milk to marinate escallops
100 g flour
3 eggs
200 g breadcrumbs
300 g cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon capers in salt
2 tablespoons black olives, pitted and sliced
A handful of fresh basil leaves
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Sherry vinegar

Serves 4
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes

  1. Slice each of the chicken breast laterally to get thinner slices or alternatively you can place the breast between two sheets of cling film and bash it with a meat tenderiser until it is about 5 mm thick. When this is done transfer the chicken pieces to a deep container and cover with milk. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours until ready to use. This will tenderise the meat.
  2. In the meantime prepare the tomato salsa like you would for a salad. Placing quartered cherry tomatoes, olives, capers and chopped basil in a deep bowl. Dress with salt, pepper, vinegar and a generous glug of olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Take the chicken out of the fridge and discard the milk.
  4. Beat the eggs together with salt and pepper and leave in a bowl.
  5. Place the breadcrumbs in a large plate and the flour in another.
  6. Dust each chicken slice with flour, dip it into the egg mixture and finally coat it with breadcrumbs.
  7. Set aside and repeat until all the chickens have been crusted.
  8. Heat some olive oil in a deep pan and gently fry the escallops until cooked through and golden brown (this should take about 2 minutes on each side).
  9. Spoon the tomato mixture over the chicken and serve immediately.

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